Gone are the days when the couch potato was confined to the TV. Web 2.0 brought a flurry of interactivity along with it that totally changed what entertainment means to the masses. Video sharing sites like You Tube are commonplace and more and more people are moving towards easily accessible rips instead of unreliable, breakable DVDs. While the couch has maintained its spot in the living room, the provider is now the PC. Thousands have (and many will follow suit) hooked up their rigs with their TVs to have the best content at their disposal anytime.
However, not everyone optimizes their PC to play everything like it should be played. People have a zillion doubts about codecs, players, and services. We folks at MakeUseOf thought that we’d help you out with some of those mind-numbing questions and provide you with the simplest ways to hop on to the media bandwagon. Here’s a primer on how to optimize your PC for playing movies.
Update Your Video Drivers
It might sound ridiculous but a majority of playback problems are solved by simply updating your display drivers. You could head over to your manufacturer’s website to see if there’s an update you missed.
You can also use previously featured Device Doctor to get hold of the latest drivers for your rig. Once you have the latest drivers installed, don’t forget to restart your system.
The problem with software giants is that they keep coming up with new codecs. If one is a novice, one can be drowned in the barrage of MKVs, AVIs, WMVs, H.264s, etc. floating around everywhere. It helps to have one consolidated set of codecs, which can handle any video file you throw at it.
One such software that plays anything that you can throw at it is the VLC Media Player. Personally, I haven’t yet found a player that handles so much with so much ease. Head over to their website and download the latest version for your system.
Use A Media Center App to Optimize Your PC for Playing Movies
Sure Windows 7 is leagues and miles ahead of any other Windows OS. Sure the Windows Media Center is the best thing to have happened to Windows since the beginning of time, but that shouldn’t stop you from using something far better to consolidate all the media strewn about your computer. Head over to Boxee and download the smallish Beta and forget all your media woes forever. The best part is that your Boxee account provides you access to tons of free streaming content (both audio and video). It will index your local audio, movies, TV shows and even lookup cover art and descriptions, and provide you with a single interface to watch it all. Is there a catch? There isn’t.
In case Boxee isn’t your thing, you can check out our list of incredible Media Center Alternatives to get hold of something that’s more you.
Check out Justin’s review of Boxee here.
Not everyone is blessed with a Shakespearean vocabulary. There are so many times when I just wish that the actors would speak slow enough for me to understand them. And then, one fine day, I was introduced to the magic of subtitles. Head over to Open Subtitles or Subs.to. Most players recognize subtitles if you simply place the SRT file in the same folder as the video file with the same file name as the video.
For example, if you have a True Lies saved as “True Lies.avi”, then simply rename the SRT file to “True Lies.srt” and place it in the same folder as the AVI. Better still, use Boxee as it simplifies the entire subtitles search for you.
Make Your Cellphone The Remote
In case you have a cellphone with Bluetooth (which is true for every other cellphone today), and app support, you can get hold of apps that let you control your Media Center via Bluetooth. All you need to do is install the app on the phone, pair your computer with the phone and get clicking on the phone. Bye-bye remote! You can choose from the following options:
Get The Environment Correct
You could be doing everything right but may still not get that magical feeling when you hit play. Head over to this website to read about how you can calibrate your audio and video settings and also how you should customize your media room to get the best out of your equipment.
This optimization also includes audio optimization. Make sure you place all your speaker components in their optimal positions. You’ll have to move them around quite a bit before you can find a position that’s ideal for your ears. Also, make sure you try out the SRS features in case you are using Windows Media Center for playback. In case you are clueless about how SRS works to improve sound, check out the small article here. To get heads-up on how to go about actually enabling it, read this guide. If you are a major MUO fan (like all of us here!), check out our article here.
There’s no questioning the fact that learning how to optimize your PC for playing movies isn’t a walk in the park. However, if you set aside a couple of hours on a Sunday, you can enjoy a truly wonderful movie experience. The best seat in the room can be yours if you simply put in a bit of effort into getting things right.
Don’t forget to check out our Movie PDF Guide, as well as our guide on How To Build A Great Media Center For Your Home. We also have the following awesome articles to help you go crazy with your movie viewing:
- How to Bookmark Videos To Resume Where You Left Off
- How To Use Handbrake To Attach Subtitles To A Movie File
- 10 Great Windows Media Player 11 Tips and Tricks
- How To Download Free Hulu Movies To Your Computer
How do you make your PC movie-worthy?
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